A day in the life of a loaf

2014-11-08 16.14.38

I designed this basic bread recipe for a Thermomix customer, I’ll call her Nancy, who had been struggling to make the perfect wholemeal loaf in a timely fashion to adorn her exceeding vast breakfast table.  After a couple of weeks trying to mentor her through virtual bread making & bakery lessons, information, advice & guidance she was still finishing up with differing variations of a builders’ brick!

So I got in the car and went armed to provide a 1:1 bespoke bakery lesson at Nancy’s house. Following a little interrogation of Nancy and her husband, I thought I had identified the reason for their baking disasters that had to this point turned out to be the norm. I really do not recommend trying to prove your bread dough on an AGA folks – this is not a good idea, as too much heat will kill the yeast. I can honestly say that I have never even proved my dough in an airing cupboard either – dough really does not need that sort of heat – an optimum temperature of  27 degrees celcius is ideal. Basically, the slower the prove the better, a great loaf is not to be rushed!

Kneaded dough in a lightly oiled bowl

Kneaded dough in a lightly oiled bowl


I had taken the precaution of making a batch of dough myself just prior to my departure from “chez nous”, so with a 45 minute drive to my destination, it was going to be about spot-on ready for me to do my Blue Peter inpersonation. Once I had got myself set up in their capacious kitchen and using their new Thermomix TM5, I knocked up another batch of dough using the recipe below and put it into a lightly oiled bowl, placed the bowl into a CoOp plastic bag to prove and just doubled in size (approx 1 hour).


Place bowl into a supermarket bag to 1st prove

Place bowl into a supermarket bag to 1st prove

At this point, with a sleight of hand and like a slick illusionist,  I produced my own bowl of pre-proved dough – I think I would even have impressed the amazing Dynamo with my performance! I knocked back the dough, shaped it and popped it into one of Nancy’s loaf tins to 2nd prove in the same plastic bag for around 30 minutes, while the other dough was still proving. YES – for the observant amongst you – I had taken two plastic bags with me.  A bloke being organised I hear you say ladies!


First prove to double in volume - approx 1 hour

First prove to double in volume – approx 1 hour

I could see that both Nancy and her husband were concerned that the loaf tin dough wasn’t rising as they had expected. No problem – after 30 minutes or so, we popped it into their shiny new hi-tec oven and they were amazed to watch it rise like a modern day Phoenix as it baked to perfection.


My idea was that Nancy’s husband would knock back the second batch of dough, shape it and place it into another loaf tin and 2nd prove it slowly in their fridge overnight – just as I had recipe tested at home a couple of days earlier. I departed a ‘happy bunny’, knowing that my customer would, from now on, produce some stunning wholemeal bread for breakfast for ever and ever AMEN!


I received an email from Nancy a couple of days later, confirming that they had indeed produced yet another variety of  ….. builders’ brick! I was distraught – what had I missed, had I really failed? I was not having problems with the same recipe at home, in fact my loaves were seriously good enough to feed the proverbial 5,000 with a few ‘fishes’ thrown in for good measure.


The “light-bulb” moment came later that day. I remembered their concern that ‘visually’ they hadn’t thought my loaf had 2nd proved sufficiently – was this the problem – they were OVER-PROVING their dough, possibly so, and most likely twice, sadly reducing the yeast’s capacity to do its job properly.  I was thrilled a couple of days later to receive a couple of photos of beautiful baked bread – RESULT!

Dough knocked back and shaped to fit loaf tin - press down dough  if you wish

Dough knocked back and shaped to fit loaf tin – press down dough if you wish









Dough risen in loaf tin to nearly double in size

Dough risen in loaf tin to nearly double in size

  •  300g water
  • 7g dried yeast or 20g fresh yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 20g olive oil
  • 500g strong bread flour + extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • olive oil for greasing
  1.  Prepare 1 x 2lb loaf tin & lightly grease if necessary
  2. 300g water, sugar & dried yeast into TM bowl – 5 min/37oC/speed 1
  3. 20g olive oil, 500g bread flour & 1 tsp salt – 6 sec/speed 6
  4. Knead 3 min/dough setting
  5. Lightly grease the inside of a bowl with some olive oil
  6. Remove the dough and transfer to a lightly floured surface & work into a ball
  7. Place the ball of dough into the bowl. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag to prove for one hour or until doubled in size
  8. Knock back the dough & shape. Place into your prepared loaf tin & lightly dust the top with flour (optional)
  9. Cover with a plastic supermarket bag and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes or until doubled in size
  10. Pre-heat oven to 220oC
  11. Bake 40 – 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  12. Tap underside – cooked when sounds hollow
 Thermomixing with Malcy – Recipe TIP:
  • Proving – Don’t prove on top of an AGA. Don’t prove too hot. Don’t over-prove; if anything, slightly under-prove.
  • Mixing flours – I always ‘play’ with the strong (bread) flour mix. My favourite is: 200g strong white, 200g wholemeal & 100g Allinson’s Country Grain.
  • Loaf tins – I usually only use George Wilkinson loaf tins – 2lb, 1lb and mini tins for individual loaves.
  • For breakfast ……….The night before; after stage 8, place uncovered loaf tin into your refrigerator (where nothing will drip onto it) to prove overnight. Turn your oven on first thing in the morning and bake your bread as indicated.


2nd prove overnight in the fridge - straight into a hot oven in the morning!

2nd prove overnight in the fridge – straight into a hot oven in the morning!